Khalil Rountree eyes spot in the rankings with win over Dustin Jacoby at UFC Fight Night 213

LAS VEGAS – Don’t get things confused: Khalil Rountree definitely has his sights set on being a UFC champion.

Earlier this year, Rountree made headlines for being candid about his life outside the fight world and opened up about his past struggles with mental health. And while that topic is one the light heavyweight said he’ll never shy away from drawing attention to, he’s also keenly focused on what he needs to do to make it to the top of the sport.

“It’s definitely a goal that I think about,” Rountree said at Wednesday’s media day for UFC Fight Night 213. “While I’m here and while I’m still fighting, I’d love to continue to climb as high as possible – champion being the pinnacle. The only way to get there is to get into the rankings. I think it’s something that I aim for, something that I ask for, and a shot that I got.”

Rountree (10-5 MMA, 6-5 UFC) is not currently in the UFC’s top 15 rankings at light heavyweight. But if he beats Dustin Jacoby (18-5-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) on Saturday at top open the main card at UFC Fight Night 213 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, he almost certainly will find himself with a spot there next week.

Jacoby is No. 13 at 205 pounds ahead of the fight, which streams on ESPN+. He’s unbeaten since he returned to MMA in 2019 after years in the kickboxing world. He worked his way back to the UFC on Dana White’s Contender Series and is 6-0-1 since his return to the promotion two years ago this weekend.

Rountree, the Season 23 “Ultimate Fighter” runner-up, has back-to-back wins after a rough patch that saw him drop three of four fights. Both wins have been TKOs. He finished Modestas Bukauskas with a leg kick in September 2021. And in March, he picked up a $50,000 bonus for his body kick stoppage of Karl Roberson.

Jacoby is a -180 favorite at Tipico Sportsbook; the comeback on Rountree is +140. But he was an underdog against Roberson and Bukauskas, too.

Still, Rountree isn’t ready to make any official predictions unless they’re private.

“I think that any opponent I face is a tough opponent,” he said. “I think this is also another tough opponent. I think everybody in the UFC, top 15 and up, even below, it’s all tough opponents. I don’t take anybody lightly, so I’m prepared.

“… I’m no ‘Mystic Mac’ – I’m not going to come in here and say (what will happen). But I know what I feel in my heart, and I’m ready. I’m prepared.”

Check out Rountree’s complete pre-fight interview in the video above.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 213.


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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie